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Advice on lens selection for continuous take

macro lens

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#1 Patrick Taylor Brown

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 11:29 AM

Hi all, 

I'm shooting a teaser for a project soon, and I'd like to end up with what appears to be one long continuous take, but would be actually 3 shots. 

The setup is simple the frame starts on black, the camera dollying backward to reveal the blackness is the pupil of the actor in the scene, focus would be pulled remotely, for a continually shifting DoF to allow for constant focus. 

The camera will continue to dolly backwards from it's initial position, using I'm assuming a macro lens, to it's final position across the room roughly 16ft back from the actor. 

I'm using a BMCC 2.5k and when the camera hit's it's final position, I need to be at an 11mm focal length to see the entire width of the room from that position.

My thought is to use a Macro lens for the initial X feet of the camera movement, shooting as I retreat, getting slightly more coverage than I need, and having the second shot be on my wider non-macro lens, on the same dolly, moving back at the same speed, and then edit them together at the point the shots "overlap", creating a seamless transition between one shot/lens and the next.

This seems possible, I'm not sure about the specifics of lens selection, but I think this is do-able.  

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. 

 


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#2 Patrick Taylor Brown

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 03:22 PM

I should have mentioned this...

The movement of the camera on the dolly track will be a consistent speed through the entirety of the take, as well as consistent from take to take.
 
I believe that's the only way to edit the two shots, both with movement, together seamlessly.
 
The problem I'm having is determining what lens to use for each of the two shots.
 
I believe I'd need a macro lens for the first section, something I can focus closely on the pupil of a person with.
 
I'm not sure how far such a lens would let me dolly back before moving out of it's focal range.
 
Then I'd need a second lens that's DoF would overlap the maximum DoF of the first lens (macro) enabling me to cut between the two shots/lenses at the exact same spot (framing-wise) and have the same DoF with both.
 
Maybe this is the wrong approach tho? I've also considered using a camera with a higher resolution, and then cropping/uncropping to either replace/replicate the above effect or to supplement/support it.

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#3 Bertil Nilsson

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 03:09 PM

It is going to be quite difficult to get a shot where the pupil fills the entire frame on a S35 sensor width-wise, a macro lens will generally go to 1:1 (i.e. life size) or less. 1:1 is only going to give you the eye filling the frame so beyond that you have a few options, including optical enlargement via diopters and doubler and/or shooting on a high density sensor like 6k/8k and cropping in (in which case you can also add a zoom). As a reference point I used a doubler on a 1:1 macro lens to get iris to fill S35 16:9 sensor height-wise.

 

Don't forget though that a macro lens at 1:1 close focus will have quite a high minimum T-stop (and focal plane will be very very shallow) and addition of diopters and doublers will really bring up the necessary light level. Another consideration is that it is quite difficult to get the eye to be still enough to work at such an extreme magnification (and the camera of course needs to be on rock solid support). The macro lens will shift T-stop as you move out of the close focus range, so you will need to compensate for that.

 

All in all, I would've thought that the first part from pupil to at least 1:1 would probably be easier to achieve in VFX than optically.. 

 

I'd recommend some serious testing before attempting this


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#4 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 06:35 PM

Blinking sounds really interesting, and may be a good cut. Speed ramping to make the blink more observale..But then I suppose it's becoming something else, less literal, more expressive..
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#5 A.J. Rickert-Epstein

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 01:06 AM

Another thing to consider: you will almost certainly see the reflections of yourself / the camera / equipment / and any lights in the eye at that close of range, so since you will have to erase those anyway or replace them with what you want, you may be better off isolating the eye element and shooting that on it's own for VFX until you get that piece exactly right.  If concerned with eye movement or time between blinks, shoot that part in high speed so any movement or blinking would be minimized.  

 

Afterwards, you can take that eye element and start it zoomed in digitally to where you want it...then begin your pull back to 1:1 or 0% digital zoom of the element (i.e. the eye is full frame just as you shot it) at the pace you want.

 

From the raw 1:1 size of the eyeball element...you can continue pulling back by comping the eye element over the main pull back take on the 11mm or whatever you will use for that and track/zoom the eye digitally as you pull back so the size and placement are perfect.  

 

The main pull back take could be starting as close as you can get he/she in focus (and then zooming in digitally to match similar framing to the 1:1 size of the VFX eye element).  You'd want to start the take before the camera move and give it some time for your digital zoom out, then slowly feather a dolly move into your intended pace back to the end of the room.

 

With this method, there are some parts that might give your effect away if you don't get the details right...for example you may have trouble with background perspective on the digital zoom out from the eye element until your start frame 1:1 size on the main pull back take.  If so, you can lock off the camera at your closest position on the main pull back take, and have the actor step out to get a clean plate of the background.  With that, you can then manipulate the background during that time between the digital zoom and the real move, simulating perspective and parallax shift on the digital zoom out and hiding your seams.  Since the background will likely be out of focus during that period of the shot, you will be able to get away with a lot of zooming/moving/manipulating with that.  Then once the actor either blinks or you find another way to get out of the eye element needing to be comp'd in, the rest of the pull back is just in-camera easy peasy.

 

The idea of blinking is good because you can get rid of the eye element easily during your main pull back take again without revealing the seam or trying to match a dissolve, or do something else fancy and time consuming.  

 

You might want to also use the main pull back take to lay over into the eyeball element digital zoom out so the portion of his/her face and eyelids zoom out too, hiding that seam  I hope that last part is clear.  If not, I can describe it more.

 

I did something similar to this shot one time but not all the way into the eye.  The kid acting in it was a trooper, he had to keep his eyes open and not blink while one of those air blowers that fill up inflatable boucy houses was shooting at his face emulating the movement of air coming from very loud speakers (a la old school Maxell commercial).  It was one of the hardest things I've ever shot.  I'm hesitant to post a link because the video is really violent and offensive to many, but since that stuff is only after the shot I'm speaking of I will point you in the right direction if you want to see it.  If you're inclined to search for it it's on youtube - it's a video for the song Gutter by Yelawolf.  It's the one with the warning that says do not watch this.  I recommend pressing stop as the camera begins to pan around and reveal what they're watching.  If you continue to watch, you cannot unsee what is there.  Be warned.


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#6 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:46 AM

AJ.  I watched some of that.  The content on the projected screen was a bit tough,  so I bailed.  But on the way to there,  I thought it was an original way to insert energy into what seems to most people to be a normally overgeneralized,  limp,  over-romantisized genre or category in MTV.  Petite narratives expressed as sensualized love without substance, sex, fame, money and "bitches" be gone !

 

I did sense a few intriguing missed oportunities.  With the fans going,  the middle aged minder,  having an as if Marilyn moment over the grill vent,  but with no underwear,  exposing a hairy bush...I think this would have been even more subversive than the violence.  Or not...?  Well that's a worry...


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:30 AM

Sounds like a digital vfx composite... mainly due to needing to be tight inside the black iris of the eye.  If you take some high resolution digital stills of the actor's eyeball, then a vfx compositor can put that into the beginning of the shot and zoom out from the black area without losing so much detail and then at some point the real eye takes over.  But you'd still have to do another dissolve or something to get to 11mm for the wide shot.

 

"Star Trek: First Contact" begins with a similar shot.


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